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City Officials, Community Leaders Hit Streets To Urge People To Get First COVID-19 Shots, Boosters, And Flu Shots

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Ten months after the first COVID-19 vaccinations were given to Americans, the city and country are entering a new phase as the booster shot becomes available.

Meanwhile, as CBS 2's Marissa Parra reported Saturday, vaccination rates still lag in some Chicago communities, and thus, the city is in an interesting position. Officials are still trying to get people their first COVID-19 vaccine shot if they have not received one yet, while also targeting people who got their first shots to get a booster.

The city is also targeting everyone to advise them to get a flu shot.

"I got my flu shot in this arm, and my COVID-19 booster in this arm," said Chicago Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady after she raised both sleeves at Kennedy-King College in Englewood.

Hours later, both Arwady and Mayor Lori Lightfoot made an appearance at another event with vaccines in Belmont Cragin. The goal was to step up the campaign for all things vaccines – COVID and flu – as we transition to colder weather.

"We know that there are still a lot of people in Chicago who have not gotten a COVID vaccine," Arwady said.

Until now, Jose Angel Ramos was one of them.

"I guess I was just a little scared about all those rumors," Ramos said. "It kind of influenced me a little bit. That's why it took so long."

His neighborhood is predominantly Latino, and for much of the year, Belmont Cragin was lagging in vaccinations.

City data show that ZIP codes still behind on vaccinations are in majority Black and brown neighborhoods.

"I think a lot of it's fear," said the Rev. Angelina Zayas, pastor of Grace and Peace Church at 1856 N. LeClaire Ave.

Zayas wanted to host something to serve her neighbors. So in addition to a supplies giveaway for families and a job fair for the unemployed, she brought both the vaccines and the booster shots to people who live in the area.

"I live two blocks away," Ramos aid. "It took 30 seconds to walk here."

And for Ramos, who hesitated for the last 10 months, it was the nudge he needed.

"They came into my neighborhood, so it shows that they care," he said. "They care about the neighborhood here."

City data show of the Latinos in Chicago who are eligible for the booster shot, only 16 percent have signed up.

"We still have a lot of people who are 'time-eligible' here in Chicago for Pfizer, including in that 65-plus group, who have not yet gotten it," Arwady said.

On a national scale, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the number of people receiving their booster shots is outpacing people getting their first round of COVID-19 vaccinations. But if the local data we have so far is any indication, it is going to be an uphill battle to get booster shot percentages where the city wants them to be.

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